Confidence. Ask any Transgender woman and they’ll all tell you it’s more than a 10 letter word, it’s everything. Right from the moment when they first chose to come out to a friend, through taking those first steps out in public, all the way through surgeries and living in authentically in their preferred gender identity.
Confidence is key to being Transgender. But why then is it so Illusive ? It’s a really hard question to answer, particularly given that the answer is that it’s already inside you. You just need to realise it. So how do you ?
Counsellors like myself will often tell you that it helps to write down each time your confidence is low, so that you can work with them to go back to identify the various triggers for when it starts. But in my experience, for Transgender women suffering with low esteem, this approach takes a long time and a lot of work and introspective, which unless supported by a skilled and patient counsellor will often be abandoned before it leads to a positive outcome.
In order to be effective, the battle to overcome low esteem and confidence needs short, medium and long term actions in order to move you forward and thrive. Take me for example.
If my confidence is low, one of my favourite things to do is close my eyes and listen to my Grandmother singing me “Horace the merrygo round horse” when I was struggling to get to sleep. It’s a song about a horse called Horace, who dances with other horses but is anxious because they are “all ahead of him” in the race of the merry go round. But one day, he changes his perspective and looks behind him and realises that he’s ahead of all the other horses.
It’s a simple childs song, but one that is hugely powerful at making you stop, think and change your perspective. Best of all, its SO personal to me, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. As soon as I hear it, I know that I am going to be ok.
Find your own memory, hold onto it and use it for a better moment. That’s how you change your short term outlook. My friend Denise is a great fan of the 5-4-3-2-1 method, where when you’re confronted with a situation which is eroding your confidence, you hold onto it for a moment, then count backwards from 5 to 0 as quick as you can and that’s it. You let it go, move on and never think of it again.
- Many of the Transgender women that call me, will often cite the need to lose weight, start their hormone treatment, or get their surgeries. While these things can help alleviate the sense of gender dysphoria, as strange as it sounds, they’re only medium term fixes. They help of course, but we need more than these to generate the confidence to thrive in the long term as women.
Reviewing cases of women that come to see me, I’ve found our confidence is most usually affected by one (or sometimes more) of the following
- Avoid Self Doubt. Many of us (if not all of us) are our own worst critics. But honestly, how does this help you ? If you find you’re constantly putting yourself down, it’s more likely to be a habit than constructive criticism, so when you find yourself saying to yourself “but……..” understand it’s not a reflection of who you really are. STOP. Interrupt your negative thoughts, reset on something more positive and remind yourself that you’re doing your best and that things ARE getting better.
- Take risks. When I was struggling with my own issues, my therapist, Joanna, told me that confidence is like a muscle, it needs regular exercise and, like a muscle, it needs to be trained, worked and developed to improve. One of the best ways to develop confidence is to take ACTION. You’ll never build confidence if you stay in your comfort zone and do the same things you’ve always done.
So get out there and try something new! Take a few risks! Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how confident you start to feel in situations that once terrified you.
- Celebrate success !! Celebrating your accomplishments is another great way to increase your confidence. Take a look back and see how far you’ve come. You’ve really got this girl !!! NO-ONE else is doing what you are, the way you are and as well as you are !! Celebrate you for a moment !!! Eat that Damn slice of chocolate cake, dance in the rain, buy those shoes. You deserve it just for being you !!!
That’s a few things from me, what makes you confident ? What issues do you struggle with ? I’d love to hear from you and even better, to see that winning smile you’ve got !
Love and hugs